Training the Generations

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In the 35th chapter of Jeremiah, we learn about an Israelite family called the Rechabites. The Rechabites were sons of Jonadab, whose father was Rechab. For reasons that we are not told, Jonadab commanded his sons to do several things that set them apart from other Israelites. Jonadab told them not to drink wine, not to build a house, not to sow seed or plant a vineyard, and not to own a vineyard. He also told them to live in tents all their days.

God used the example of the Rechabites to teach Israel a lesson about obedience. God told Jeremiah to bring the Rechabites into the house of the Lord and give them wine to drink. Jeremiah did as God told him to do. Jeremiah 35:6-10 tells us what happened next.

But they said, “We will not drink wine, for Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, commanded us, saying, ‘You shall not drink wine, you or your sons, forever. You shall not build a house, and you shall not sow seed nor plant a vineyard, nor own one; but you shall live in tents all your days, so that you may live many days in the land where you live as strangers.’ And we have obeyed the voice of Jonadab the son of Rechab, our father, in all that he commanded us, not to drink wine all our days, we, our wives, our sons, or our daughters, nor to build ourselves houses to live in; and we do not have a vineyard, a field, or seed. But we have lived only in tents, and have obeyed and have done according to all that our father Jonadab commanded us.”

The Rechabites then explained that they had come to live in Jerusalem after the Babylonian king Nebuchadnezzar came to fight against Israel.

God used the example of the Rechabites’ obedience as a lesson for the Israelites.

Indeed, the sons of Jonadab the son of Rechab
have followed the command of their father
which he commanded them,
but this people has not listened to Me.
Jeremiah 35:16

How God’s heart must grieve when we disobey Him. God told the Israelites that He was going to punish them for their disobedience, but He told Jeremiah to give a message to the Rechabites.

Then Jeremiah said to the house of the Rechabites,
“This is what the Lord of armies, the God of Israel says:
‘Because you have obeyed the command
of Jonadab your father, kept all his commands,
and done according to all that he commanded you,
therefore this is what the Lord of armies,
the God of Israel says: “Jonadab the son of Rechab
will not lack a man to stand before Me always.”’”
Jeremiah 35:18-19

I am impressed with the sons of the Rechabites for their obedience and impressed with Jonadab for the obvious respect his sons had for him.

Yesterday I visited with a friend who recently quit his job to be at home with his young children. He knew that his job was taking him away from home too much and that its stresses were making him too tired to be the parent he wanted to be when he was at home. His wife is a professional who plans to continue working at her job. These two devoted parents have decided that this is the best situation for their children at the present time. Wow. I am proud of them.

I know that I am “preaching to the choir” when I say that parents must take parenting their children seriously. What is spoken of much less often is the need for grandparents to take their roles seriously as well. Before the Israelites went into the Promised Land, Moses reminded them of God’s commands. In Deuteronomy 4, he said:

Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently,
so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen
and they do not depart from your heart
all the days of your life;
but make them known to your sons and your grandsons.
Deuteronomy 4:9

When God chose Abraham to be the patriarch of the nation of Israel, He did so with the knowledge that Abraham would take that role seriously.

Etching of Abraham and Isaac by Rembrandt van Rijn. Courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1917.

 The Lord said, “Shall I hide from Abraham
what I am about to do,
since Abraham will certainly become a great and mighty nation,
and in him all the nations of the earth will be blessed?
For I have chosen him, so that he may
command his children and his household after him
to keep the way of the Lord
by doing righteousness and justice,
so that the Lord may bring upon Abraham
what He has spoken about him.
Genesis 18:17-19





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